Mason's Folklore Program hosts Spooky Story Swap

Mason students and staff swap stories about local legends and ghouls of the school (photo by Gopi Raghu).
Mason students and staff swap stories about local legends and ghouls of the school (photo by Gopi Raghu).

In the spirit of Halloween, the Folklore Department and its student-run organization, the Folklore Roundtable, teamed up to host a Spooky Stories event on Wednesday night.

Students and faculty gathered in the JC and shared their strange experiences with one another, depicting stories about things from haunted libraries to possessed pianos. Storytelling has been an integral form of communication in every culture and the event helped highlight this fact as people from different backgrounds explained the histories behind some of their stories.

Debra Shutika, Director of the Folklore Department, discussed how every culture seems to have its own form of folklore, and how the same tales could change over time from person to person. These stories hold great importance for different groups.

"I think stories connect us," said Brandon Moore-McNew, a Mason student and folklore enthusiast. "The stories that we tell are the stories of our lives, people and things we encounter; and it's a way of sharing that with other people. You can't have a community without folklore."

True to Moore-McNew's words, the storytellers at the event shed some light on Mason's local legends that a majority of the audience already knew. For example, there is the Clifton Bunnyman who was either a serial bunny murderer or a serial child murderer in a bunny suit, depending on who tells what version of the story. A student also shared her friend's experience with the Mason Pond Ghost, a young man who supposedly drowned in the on-campus pond. For those who didn't know about these legends, the experience was eye opening.

"Stories happen around us all the time," Moore-McNew said. "We can either engage with them or we can not, but it's more interesting if you do."

The story swap also provided a unique audience that was less skeptical of ghost stories. People felt more comfortable sharing experiences that they were unwilling to share under normal circumstances. At this time of the year, the sense of community makes all the scary stories come out.

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